Ever met a woman who runs an orphanage in Nepal and thought to yourself, “Wow, that’s so … meaningful.” And then you thought about your own work and felt underwhelmed by your impact on humanity?
Sometimes, it’s harder to see how the work you do actually contributes good to the world. So here are some ideas to help you uncover the deeper purpose of your 9-5, whether it’s work in an office, being home full-time with kids, building your own business, teaching, freelancing or something else altogether.
And maybe, upon reflection, you’ll realize that it’s time for a career shift so that you can create the impact you’ve always wanted to. Here we go:
Deeper Purpose #1:
Your job allows you to provide for people you love.
Is your job helping put a roof over your kids’ heads? Food on the table? Clothes on their backs? Providing money for piano lessons? Doctor’s appointments? That’s meaningful.
Deeper Purpose #2:
Your job puts you in the path of people who need kindness, support or a listening ear.
Have you ever been having a rough day, and then were caught off guard by someone who was kind when they didn’t need to be? Maybe it was a customer service person who quickly, cheerfully helped remedy your problem. Maybe it was a bank teller who asked how your day was and you knew they sincerely wanted to know. Maybe it was the guy sweeping the street who smiled and said hello when everyone else on the sidewalk was glued to their phones.
Have you ever stood up from the hair dresser’s chair feeling light as a feather because not only did you love your cut, but you totally got to vent about what’s happening in your life? Or have you ever been encouraged by a co-worker to do the thing you’ve been dreaming about but didn’t have the confidence to go for?
You can be that kindness, that listening ear and that encouraging support for the people you interact with at work. And that’s meaningful.
Deeper Purpose #3:
Your job gives you the resources to financially support causes you believe in.
Maybe your job doesn’t seem particularly humanitarian … the money you earn can be! What if instead of the $50 bottle of wine to unwind this weekend, you bought $50 worth of groceries to deliver to a local food pantry? Maybe you decided to donate your bonus to the orphanage in Nepal that that awesome lady runs? Meaningful.
Deeper Purpose #4:
Your job lightens the load of those you work for and with.
Our culture really glorifies the CEO, the solopreneur and the lone wolf businessperson. But really, teamwork makes the dream work. And if what you do assists someone or enables your boss’ day to flow more smoothly or provides critical resources and support, that’s meaningful. Just think about the workload and stress level and impossibility of your team’s task if you weren’t there. You may feel like a cog wheel sometimes, but any mechanical engineer will tell you that if one critical piece is missing, the machine won’t work.
Deeper Purpose #5:
Your job is a critical piece in solving a problem for other people – no matter how mundane it may seem.
Businesses that are successful solve a problem. And if you help that business run in any way, you’re helping solve people’s problems. When you’re filing those reports and wiping down the cafe’s counter top and presenting in those meetings and doing all that research, just remember the problem you’re helping solve.
Deeper Purpose #6:
The challenging environment / work load is the catalyst to refine your character and/or hone your skills and talents.
Got an infuriating boss? An overwhelming project? An upcoming year that’s going to stretch the bounds of your skills and the scope of your responsibility? Just like our muscles need resistance to grow, this season in your career has been designed to shape you in a particular way.
Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to act with integrity when everyone else is being dishonest. Maybe you’ll grow in patience having to deal with maddening co-workers. Maybe having to delve deeper into your specialty gives you a chance to grow and sharpen your knowledge base and add even more value to the company. Or maybe it makes you realize that you wouldn’t really like to have your boss’ job – and that it’s time for a shift in your career.
If what you do for a living doesn’t violate your values or intentionally deceive people, chances are you’re doing more meaningful work than you realize. We hope this article encourages you to see the impact you’re making every single day! Happy working!